A babyâ€™s heart begins to beat just five weeks in to pregnancy and does an amazing job, pumping enough blood to fill a paddling pool in a single day covering the same distance as London to Hong Kong and back. Pretty impressive for a pump the size of your fist.
Like all muscles in your body the heart needs exercise to keep it strong and healthy and ensure it can do its job effectively. But unfortunately the heart is all too often taken for granted.
Around 80% of 5-15 year olds in England fail to meet the current physical activity recommendations and 27% of UK adults do not achieve even 30 minutes of exercise each week.
With screen time, indoor play and sedentary lifestyles making inactivity the modern-day norm, Heart Research UK is sharing some top tips to help your family turn over a new leaf.
Find free fitness opportunities on your doorstep
– step outdoors and take a trip to your local park or green space. Take a Frisbee or cricket set and involve the whole family, even the four-legged kind! Outdoor gyms are springing up all around us, often near to childrenâ€™s playgrounds which are a perfect opportunity to practise an alfresco workout while the kids let off some steam.
Shift the coffee table for a spot of front room fitness
â€“ for tech lovers, swap the traditional games console for a competitive motion-control game that will get you out of your seat. Squats, planks, crunches and tricep- dips are easily squeezed into television ad-breaks. Pick up a cheap set of weights or improvise with tins of beans, bags of rice or whatever youâ€™ve got lying around.
Devise an active reward scheme
â€“ mark your familyâ€™s achievements with active outings instead of foodie treats. A trip to the bowling alley, ice rink or swimming baths make for memorable ways to celebrate dadâ€™s promotion or the childrenâ€™s exam success.
Tap into school sporting opportunities
â€“ most schools offer much more these days than the traditional football or netball team. Trampolining, martial arts or dance groups are likely to be more appealing for those children who donâ€™t class themselves as sporty.
Set a family fitness challenge
â€“ tap into your familyâ€™s competitive streak with a 10,000 a day step challenge. Rewards and forfeits such as household chores are sure to motivate the troops. Give yourselves something to aim towards and sign up for a big event that the whole family can get involved with.
Heart Research UK has plenty of ideas to get you started: http://heartresearch.org.uk/events
Grab spring by the horns and invest in some quality fun and active family time for healthier hearts all round.